Sunday, September 16, 2007

I'm a Lumberjack and I'm Okay

Going by the convention that your birthday begins at midnight, at the start of the day, as I begin this entry I am less than half an hour away from turning fifty, 50, the big FIVE-OH! And I know that everyone older than me is going: so what? big deal! I wish I was 5o again! And then there are the young'uns who are horrified at the thought. And I admit, it has gotten to me a bit. I thought I was doing okay for a while, but with a difficult and draining summer, I've found myself battling depression, and this particular birthday is one of those round numbers that serve to underline the fact that I'm not getting any younger, I'm no spring chicken, I'm past my prime, well into middle age, into my silver years, now entitled to my very own AARP card (hey, the discounts aren't bad!).

So it goes. And the rational part of myself tries to remind me that the number is entirely arbitrary, that I will be no different in, yikes, 22 minutes now, than I am right now. But we human beings live and die by the symbol, don't we, and right now it feels closer to the latter than the former.

So what? Didn't someone once say, life begins at 50? Must have been one of those sixties things. Who did say that, anyway? Hmm, let's do a quick Google search and... no luck! But here are some funny quotes from a page about aging:

"Maybe it's true that life begins at 50... but everything else starts to wear out, fall out, or spread out."
- Phyllis Diller

"The cardiologist's diet: If it tastes good spit it out."
- Unknown

"By the time a man is wise enough to watch his step, he's too old to go anywhere."
- Billy Crystal

"I don't feel old. I don't feel anything until noon. Then it's time for my nap."
- Bob Hope

"We could certainly slow the aging process down if it had to work its way through Congress."
- Will Rogers

"Don't worry about avoiding temptation... as you grow older, it will avoid you."
- Winston Churchill

And I remember Bill Clinton turning 50 while he was in the White House, and being asked how it felt. His response was, it's better than the alternative. And that's for damn sure, in fact, let me raise a glass and drink some beer to everyone I've known who has not made it this far. To you, my friends.

And to me. *hic*!

Well, now it's nine minutes to go, and I suppose I could be thinking of all the things I had wanted to accomplish by the time I was 50, and either congratulate myself for achieving them, or bemoan the fact that I never got to do them. But the truth of the matter is that I never thought much about celebrating my 50th birthday before, never actually thought I'd make it this far. I recall Mickey Mantle saying something like, if I'd known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself. I can second that one. Oh, well.

Oops, only six minutes left. Let me go get another drink and we'll celebrate the moment together.

No beer left, but I do have some Scotch, so I've having some, on the rocks (I know, I'm a wuss). Scotch is about right for 50, anyway. So, it's four minutes to go. Make that 3.

Isn't the sense of time here strange. On the one hand, it's like it's happening right now, and you're here with me, in the moment. On the other hand, this can only be read well after the time it was written. Oh well, 2 minutes to go.

Why am I blogging now. Well, to tell you the truth, no one else is awake here at home, so you're my only friend. Thash rite, yer the only wun hoo reeelly undershtandsh me! Oops, just one more minute of not being 50. Tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick and thar she blows. It is done.

One Half of One CENTURY!

Well, happy birthday to me! Boy, this really sucks! More Scotch. Actually, I was celebrating a bit the last few days, celebrating my last days of not being 50. Now, what's to celebrate?

Enough already, I hear you saying. What about the lumberjack? Ah yes, I'm glad you reminded me of that. Okay, here's something to celebrate. A couple of weeks ago, we were all out on the patio behind our house, my daughter was swimming all day in the large blow up pool we had there, my son was in there for a bit too, we had a little barbecue dinner right there, it was a beautiful night, so we lingered out back until finally going inside.

Maybe half an hour later, the wind had suddenly started to blow real hard, and then I heard an enormous crash, the whole house shook, tiles fell off of the ceiling in the kitchen, and my first reaction was to make sure everyone else was okay, of course. It took a while to figure out what had happened, but basically there was a dead tree on this little patch of territory we have under the patio (we live on a hill), and the trunk had cracked and it broke, falling against the side of the house.

The bottom part of the broken tree landed right in the swimming pool, right where my children were not too long ago. Needless to say, they could have been killed, we all could have been killed. Miraculously, not only were we all safe indoors when it happened, but the house itself did not seem to be more than superficially damaged. I said a traditional Hebrew prayer of thanks to God for preserving and sustaining us, and especially the children.

So, we were left with a broken tree leaning against the house, the other end in the swimming pool, which had lost a good amount of water, but was still quite full. Being a bit short on funds, I said I would buy a chainsaw after the next paycheck, and take care of this myself. To be honest, I have never even been near a chainsaw before. My entire knowledge on this subject comes from having seen the original version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and from the Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness movies.

And I know there are those who will laugh at the fact that I felt intimidated by this, but what can I say, I grew up in an apartment building. And it was a rather large tree leaning against the house, and I was concerned about it falling on me when I cut it, or falling and damaging something else. And there was a bad combination of lots of water from the pool, and electricity around. So anyway, obviously, I survived the experience, all my limbs are intact, and now I can say that the one thing I wanted to do before I was 50 was use a chainsaw, and I have fulfilled that goal. Hindsight is truly a kick in the head.

So, anyway, what with cutting logs and all, and using them to flatten down the sides of the pool to empty the water out (which I did yesterday, finishing the job today after everything had dried out overnight), I was balancing on the logs (albeit not very well) and felt like I was a kid again, playing at being a lumberjack (log rolling and jumping from log to log as they moved down a river was a staple of cartoons when I was a kid).

So, I have discovered that life as a lumberjack begins at 50, or right before. And that brings to mind the famous Lumberjack song from my all-time favorite television comedy group (and not too bad in the movies, either), Monty Python's Flying Circus;

and now for something completely different, or slightly different, anyway:

and now for something a little less similar, machinima style:

and another machinima version:

these guys were really brilliant, and well-educated. Here's them doing a German version:

and just to show that there is life after 50, or 60 even, here are the surviving Pythons at the 2002 George Harrison Tribute. There's a bit of extra material to begin with, but just wait and they'll go into the Lumberjack song once again:

And that about sums it up, I am a lumberjack, and I am okay, now, being 50-years old. Fifty, man, who'd a thunk...


Casdok said...

Belated Happy Birthday!

John said...

Happy birthday!